SHE REALLY DID
27 March, 2003
I can't believe she really did it. I can't believe she's really gone.
Olivia has been talking about moving out of California for the last couple of years.
She used to live in Mexico and she got this bee in her bonnet that she wanted to move back
there. Every time I visited her, she would show me mansions that she'd found on line in
Cuernavaca which she could buy for a pittance. The pittance would even cover a housekeeper
and someone to keep the grounds.
Page after page of haciendas I saw. Each one grander than the other. There were places
with pools, and places with views, and places with pools and views.
A couple of months ago, she went to Mexico to visit with the family with whom she had
lived as a student years ago. She came back with her enthusiasm renewed. They had actually
gone looking at homes and she left them with the idea that they were going to find her the
The Internet bookmarks on all of her "favorites" were set for real estate
agents in and around Cuernavaca. She talked about it so much, while sitting firmly
entrenched in her crowded apartment, feeding the squirrels, that I knew she'd never do it.
A month ago she took a quick trip to babysit for her nephews and niece in Idaho while
her sister and husband took a short vacation..
When she came home she called. "I bought a condo in Boise," she said,
What? Excuse me? BOISE? What happened to Mexico? What happened to the mansions
of Cuernavaca? What happened to that pool I was going to lounge around in while the maid
brought me a Margarita? BOISE?
Well, it turned out that after spending a week with the kids she realized that
"Aunt Olivia" wanted to live closer to them while they were growing up. I
--what good is it to be an aunt if you can't spoil your sister's kids rotten?
So she went looking for places to live, found a condo (which has twice the amount of
space as the apartment she's been in all this time, as well as TWO work out rooms and
pools, she reminds me over and over again, and a view of the mountains). The price was
right and she bought it.
It happened so fast, after all of these months of talk about Cuernavaca that I didn't
actually believe that (a) she had done it, and (b) she was really going to move.
When I went down there a week ago to go with her to the peace march in San
Francisco and saw the boxes and boxes and boxes of books, the huge roll of bubble wrap,
ready to wrap all the pictures, and especially when she gave away one of her computers to
a friend, I started to believe this might actually happen.
"I'm going to spend the first night with you," she announced. It's a 12 hour drive
to Boise, but she and Linda Jean (the cat) were going to take it easy. Stop in Davis after
the day of packing up the moving truck, then on to Nevada tonight and Boise tomorrow.
She showed up around 10 p.m. last night, exhausted. She'd been wrapping and packing and
directing the movers all day. Linda Jean had spent the day in the car and had been
amazingly good. But they were both ready to pass out. "Wake me by 10," she said.
This morning she was up by 8, in time to say her goodbyes to Walt. We had coffee, she
told me about her route and when she expected to arrive at her sister's house, worried
about how the cat and the huge dog were going to get along (Kimba didn't even notice she
was here--Kimba doesn't know what cats are and Linda Jean doesn't know what dogs are, so it
worked out just fine).
And then, by 9 a.m, she was in her car, backing out of the driveway. And it was over.
So quickly. I'm still kind of dazed.
Boise. My word.
My friendship with Olivia was a strange happenstance. We were both members of the same
discussion group on CompuServe and after several months met face to face over dinner in SF
while Walt was off building sets with the Lamplighters. I figured we'd spend an hour
getting to know each other. Three hours later we were still talking.
We got together a couple of other times, when fellow CompuServe members came through
town, but things might never have moved along at all except that David died in a terrible
auto accident and Olivia (an attorney) jumped in to handle all the dealings with the
hospital and the insurance companies. It was an often frustrating year, but she stuck with
it and we were very grateful. A friendship developed.
Following that, the apartment building in which she lived was sold and, since she was
living under rent control and the place could command a significantly higher rent, the new
owners decided to evict her. That was another emotional time, fighting with the landlord,
the emotional loss (thanks to a biased judge) and ultimately moving out of the place she'd
made her home for some 30 years. I helped her get settled in her new apartment.
Then there were surgeries. She's long had back problems and has had so many surgeries
that she's an old hand at it. I took over the job of driving her to and from the surgery
center and staying with her for the first two days, cooking meals, and running errands.
or five years ago she took off on a trip to Australia. When she returned she said
"You simply HAVE to get to know this woman I spent time with in Australia." She
insisted that the two of us would get along, that we were so much alike. "Go
ahead--write to her," she said, and I sent off the first e-mail to Peggy and out of
that first e-mail grew another friendship that I treasure.
We enjoyed computers...I introduced her to the Marbles game, but I'm still better at it
than she is (though she will heatedly deny that).
Then came this lifestyle change of mine. "Let's buy bikes," she
said. We all know where THAT suggestion led!
As I look back over the years since that first infamous dinner in SF, I see that Olivia
has been an integral part of my life for a very long time. She has just kind of always
BEEN there and it seems strange to think that she won't be there any more.
I know she'll have a marvelous time being Auntie Olivia--and her presence in Boise
might even double the Democratic population of that conservative town.
But I'll miss our time together, miss my "Bay Area apartment," miss feeding
the squirrels and watching the ducks, miss our bike rides (tho she hasn't been able to
bike much lately anyway), I'll miss the convenience of a "crip sticker"
(handicap parking tag) and...oh heck...I'll even miss Olivia.
It's always sad when things have to change. Boise isn't that far away, but it's too far
to pop down for dinner. But I'm looking forward to checking out that HUGE new place of
hers some day. Maybe I can find a maid somewhere to bring me a Margarita while I lounge
around in the complex hot tub.
Vaya con dios, mia amiga.